Heading to Indy.
Let's get to it . . . Drum Major Estoesta from Jacksonville:
I say put Marcedes Lewis against all premier pass rushers this season. What are your thoughts on this?
John: Why? The Jaguars have a left tackle, Eugene Monroe, who thus far this season has played well against premier pass rushers – actually, make that very well. Lewis is a very good blocking tight end – one of the best in the NFL. But he is a tight end. You might have Lewis help the Jaguars' tackles at times, but I don't think you're going to see him playing either tackle position.
Shaun from Live Oak, FL:
would love to see the jags go get a veteran receiver from free agency wouldnt you
Nick from Ottawa, Canada:
Do you think the fact you have to ask how Alualu is playing indicates he's not playing that well? True difference makers jump out and he's obviously not doing that. Add in that the team is 31st against the run and has almost no pass rush, and you wonder how anyone can say he's playing well without laughing. And to think we passed on Pierre Paul even though we were looking for a pass rush (same story, different year). Sometimes the "base hit, safe pick" ends up being the riskiest pick because of who you're passing on. This is no doubt far too critical to post, but after 4 years, a supply of patience which was once ample is starting to wear thin.
John: I always laugh at the emails that say, "This is no doubt too critical to post," as if critical emails never make the Ozone. Nick, your question is no "tougher" than most and you're not the first person to suggest that the Jaguars should have taken Pierre-Paul over Alualu. In retrospect, would the Jaguars have taken Pierre-Paul had they known then what they know now? Probably. Many teams passed on Pierre-Paul and he was at the time a risky pick. He turned out to be very good. I happen to believe Alualu has played well, and I believe he would have played much better had it not been for his knee injury. I think he's still playing through that, and that certainly doesn't help. But just because you don't notice a player, particularly a defensive tackle, doesn't mean he's not playing well. Maybe he is or maybe he isn't, but that's not proof either way. Also remember, this time last year people were talking about drafting a left offensive tackle.
Anthony from Fontana, CA:
Excuses are great. You know what is better... Winning! Losers make excuses and winners get to drink champagne. What do you like: the taste of champagne or defeat?
John: I like Intuition I-10 IPA.
Chris from Crestview, FL:
Real depth is the following: Lose Joe Montanta and your backup is Steve Young. Teams that have starter or potential starter caliber players. I understand it isn't practical. The metric most disturbing is we lead the league with 10 guys on IR after week 1.
John: I understand the dynamic that makes people question the Jaguars' depth, but your argument is based on perhaps the most unusual circumstance in the last 20 years in the NFL – a Hall of Fame quarterback replacing another Hall of Fame quarterback. There's Montana-Young. And there's Favre-Rogers. And there's . . . and there's . . . What you're talking about isn't depth. It's closer to a fluke.
Tony from Jacksonville:
Thursday's game helped put things in perspective for me. Gabbert is constantly being compared to Cam Newton, and Cam had a rough game. Eli Manning dealt with a lot of criticism his first few years, and now he may be the best in the league. Peyton Manning threw three interceptions in the first half last week and Brady had a mediocre game. This is the NFL, it's tough. Gabbert is still one of the youngest quarterbacks in the league, and played behind a makeshift line with new receivers, coaches and offense. The other quarterbacks I just mentioned didn't have to deal with any of that adversity last week and still struggled. Give him time. And more importantly, if you really do call yourself a Jaguars fan and want our team to win, support him and the team. Let him know that he's our guy. Anything else is truly counterproductive.
John: I thought the same thing watching the game Thursday. Had Gabbert had the sort of game Cam Newton had the Ozone would have been flooded with emails forecasting the end of days, not that we didn't get one or two of those this week. But the best takeaway from that game is Eli Manning. There were times early in his career that Giants observers thought he was a bust, and that he ducked too much from pressure. Now, as you say, he is one of the best. We don't know yet what Gabbert's end game is, but that's the point: we don't yet know.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Jag season ticket holder, long-time ago Patriots fan. Wondering, why does Eli Manning get no respect? On the NFL broadcast there was enough man love for Cam Newton I was nauseous. Eli is a proven, Super Bowl MVP winner. Aside from being a Tom Coughlin fan I have no Giant or Manning fan tendencies, but come on. Why is Eli so disrespected?
John: I didn't see the beginning of the broadcast, although there has been a tendency toward going overboard on the early Cam love. Overall, Manning gets quite a bit of respect. If you don't respect him as a quarterback, I'm not sure you're watching the same thing I am.
Franklin from St. Augustine, FL:
I find it interesting how much of Friday's O-zone was devoted to the injury excuse. I read it Friday after watching the Giants throttle the Panthers without their starting LT, #1WR and RB. I think it is important to understand that the Jag fans do not operate in a vacuum, we watch other teams too. Green Bay won the Super Bowl missing many guys. There is no excuse for not beating a team that just started rebuilding when we have been rebuilding for four years now!!
John: Generally speaking – and emphasize "generally" – teams that can play through injuries at a high level are teams with quarterbacks in their prime. Blaine Gabbert is developing, and not in his prime yet. There are a litany of examples of teams who have won games with injured players with quarterbacks not in their primes, and I'm prepared for the litany of emails reminding me of this, but my general theory is that teams with mature, elite-level quarterbacks can play through injuries far easier than others.
Forrest from Jacksonville:
Play until the clock hits zeroes. The victory formation is taking a play off. It was a one-score game, so imagine if Manning would have fumbled. These guys get paid a lot of money to do this. Taking a play off is bush league. Jumping and falling backwards to draw a flag is bush league. Acting like you're throwing a flag you don't have every time the ball is thrown in your direction and you don't catch it is bush league. As your predecessor used to say, this is a tough game for tough men. Don't cry because you gave up on the last play but the other team didn't.
John: I'm still getting a ton of emails along these lines. A lot of them say essentially what you have said. We're done with this topic. And it was still bush league.
John from Section 123:
Is Mel Tucker losing more sleep over stopping Andrew Luck or Donald Brown this week?
John: I haven't talked to Mel about his sleep pattern, but I'd be more worried about Luck.
Charles from Orange Park, FL:
You're right that there weren't that many plays downfield. To go downfield you have to have time and Gabbert was getting pressure. Wish the coaching staff would do a cut-up of Manning in Monday Night game, of how he moved around in pocket; sliding sideways, moving up in pocket to gain time. Fans need to understand Gabbert is only 22 – that's really young to be starting NFL quarterback. He just needs to be more mobile and it wouldn't hurt if he would run for yardage now and then if nobody is open.
John: Your point is a good one. After two games, it appears to me that Gabbert has improved his footwork and pocket presence dramatically. There's a difference between that and being able to negotiate the pocket and feel the pressure instinctively as Manning does. That's something that comes with time and experience. I began covering Manning in 2001, and while he was in his fourth NFL season, he was nowhere near as good in the pocket then as he is now. I watched him improve steadily, and in time, Gabbert is athletic and intelligent enough that it's reasonable to believe he will improve, too. As for your final thought, he is mobile. The coaches are encouraging him to run when no one's open and the opportunity is there. I'd expect that to happen some as time goes on.
I took a few days off of the O-Zone and came back to read it. I'll tell you I don't miss your snarkiness.
John: I can think of something I didn't miss the last few days, too.